ERIC THE RED
review by Octavio Ramos Jr
Those of you accustomed to a harsher, blacker sound when listening to Viking metal will be surprised when spinning Tyr's Eric The Red. First off, the band uses a power-metal foundation, augmented by many folk elements (most apparent on tracks such as the beer song The Wild Rover and Ólavur Riddararós) and a sense of the majestic and progressive. Most satisfying is that the band does not rely on keyboards and effects to achieve these bombastic sounds, but rather emphasises compositional prowess and excellent musicianship.
Heri Joensen uses clean vocals propelled by powerful lungs. Along with Terji Skibenæs, Heri creates wave after wave of fret-smouldering guitar riffs, complex rhythms, and foot-stomping solos. Drummer Kári Streymoy has a keen sense of timing, using it to fashion rollicking, catchy rhythms punctuated by Gunnar H. Thomsen's four-string woofer. All four musicians also contribute background vocals, using a Queen-like approach to create rousing choruses and hard-hitting verses. Not one track is alike, from the eerily menacing Stýrisvølurin and the heavy/ Bathory-like Rainbow Warrior to the medieval-sounding juggernaut Ramund Hin Unge and the Kamelot-like splendor displayed on the title track.
Lyrically, the band mines ancient Viking legends, both from Norway and its own islands, for inspiration. Tyr band members write in both English and their native tongue, and it's really the Norwegian compositions that come off as the more grandiose and powerful. Rather than approach strength from a darkened point of view - as many of the Viking-metal bands do, Tyr holds a positive outlook. For example, the following words are taken from the Alive track: "How things would be if you were to be free/ and how high you could fly if you'd really try."
In a way, Tyr complements the work of Enslaved but concurrently serves as an antithesis of this band. Both are progressive and both indulge in the world of Norse myth, but whereas Enslaved's sound is like obsidian; Tyr's is a crystal-clear diamond. Eric The Red is heartedly recommended.